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August 30, 2009

Lord of the Flies

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Lord of the Flies

Author: William Golding

Page Length: 202

Reading Level: 9

Genre: Allegorical Novel, Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: In Lord of the Flies, British school boys are stranded on a deserted island during a nuclear war because their plane crashes. Ralph meets Piggy, a fat-glasses wearing boy, and together they find a conch shell which they use as a trumpet. They use this conch shell to make a loud noise hoping that it will help locate other survivors of the plane crash. In response to the sound, other boys appear. The very small boys are called “lilluns”. The older boys are called “biguns”. Also a group of choir boys led by Jack Merridew arrive. All the boys soon realize that there are no adults present so they try to organize a society with rules based upon the rules from civilization as they know it. In an attempt to organize a society, the boys elect Ralph as the chief. Ralph’s competitor, Jack, is assigned control of the choir (the hunters who locate the food). As in most societies, duties to be performed are delegated to each of the boys by Ralph.  Since Jack and his choir are the “hunters”, Ralph, Piggy, and the twins who are called “Samneric” will carry water and build huts. Ralph and Piggy decide to build a fire using Piggy’s glasses. The boys hope the fire is seen by planes or ships that could rescue them. The hunters are also responsible for keeping this fire burning. One day, the hunters neglect the fire and it goes out. Conflict arises when Ralph and Piggy criticize Jack. In response, Jack breaks Piggy’s glasses and brags about the pig his hunters have killed for food. Soon the boys begin to think that a “beast” is on the island and everyone eventually becomes afraid. This fear causes even more power struggles between Ralph and Jack. With fear, conflict, and chaos, the boys turn to “savages”.  What or who is the “beast”? As the beast becomes a reality, what happens to Ralph and Piggy? Why does the group of “hunters”, led by Ralph, begin to “hunt” him?  Does the group of boys get rescued or are they forced to survive alone on the island forever?  

REVIEW:  Lord of the Flies is an excellent book to teach the reader the need for rules, laws, and order to maintain a civilized society. One learns that without these ideals, we as a society will become “savages”. William Golding presents the need for laws and order to prevent chaos in an adventure story. As simply an adventure story of the experiences of boys stranded on a deserted island to the multi-layered themes and depths of plot, Lord of the Flies can be enjoyed by young adult readers to older adults.  

AREAS FOR TEACHING: main idea and supporting details, theme, setting, characters, point of view, conflict, plot, compare/contrast, cause/effect, sequence of events, inference, conclusions, generalizations, predictions, voice, mood, tone, 5 steps of the writing process, symbolism, irony.

RELATED BOOKS: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein, MacBeth by William Shakespeare, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Crucible by Shirley Jackson, Animal Farm by George Orwell. Books by the same author: The Inheritors, Pinch Martin, The Brass Butterfly: A Play in Three Acts, Free Fall, The Spire, The Pyramid, The Scorpion God: Three Short Novels, Darkness Visible, The Paper Men, An Egyptian Journal, Close Quarters, Fire Down Below, Close Quarters, Rites of Passage

MOVIE & TV CONNECTIONS: Lord of the Flies (movie – 1963), Lord of the Flies (movie – 1990), Lost (TV series)

MUSIC CONNECTION: Iron Maiden – “Lord of the Flies”, U2 – “Shadows and Tall Tress


REVIEWED BY: Tammy Leitzel


April 2, 2008

Flight #116 Is Down

Flight #116 is Down

Author: Caroline B. Cooney

Page Length: 201

Reading Level: 5th

Genre: Realistic Fiction

REVIEW: This story is one of those that you should not read while on a plane or prior to boarding one. It is, however, a book I would recommend you pick up! In Flight #116 is Down, a tragic airplane crash (of which we never find out the cause) brings a small town together for the rescue.  

PLOT SUMMARY: This book is also about the lives of many of the passengers who board this doomed aircraft. Some die and some live. However, this is not where the interest lies. It is the background of these people and their loved ones that the heart of this story is revealed. There is major action (especially when the crash occurs on page 44), yet there are human elements of courage, selfishness, anger, sadness, and fear. Each character has a story to tell. Daniel and Tucker are dealing with their father’s impending marriage to a new wife. Teddie is a small child on her way home to mom and dad. Carly is a twin who is traveling to re-unite with her family after falling into a life of drugs and parties. Darienne is self-centered and refuses to help out the survivors of the crash. She is my favorite character for her colorful personality. Her sarcasm is a horrible character trait, but she is an interesting individual. Darienne is more worried about her looks, getting a connecting flight, and suing the airline than the safety and welfare of those dying around her. Pages 19-22 and page 87 provide some great insight and examples of Darienne’s character.  

Apart from the passengers on the plane, the two main characters are Heidi Landseth and Patrick Farquhar. These two teenagers live in the small community of Nearing River where all emergencies are handled by volunteers. It is in this town, in the backyard of Heidi’s estate, in which the crash occurs. Patrick naturally rises to the occasion, as an EMT, helping out the victims of the crash. Heidi on the other hand, grows from a girl who does not stand out in a crowd, to one that takes some great initiative. She surprises herself by orchestrating many of the rescue maneuvers.  

Besides the revelation that many of the passengers on the plane die, this book ends with Patrick and Heidi growing close (in the heat of emergency) and Tucker reconciling his ill feelings toward his father’s impending marriage.  

AREAS FOR TEACHING: This book would be a great tool to expose students to the skills of characterization, internal dialogue, setting, and visualization. Some pages you should check out are 98-99, 147, and 166-167.  

MOVIE/RELATED BOOK CONNECTION: Students may make real-life connections to this book with the events of 9-11 in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. and the movies the various movies that followed. Another movie/book connection would be Lord of the Flies  

RELATED WEBSITES: (short quiz) (awesome powerpoint) 

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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